Monday, March 9, 2015

Bonnie Henrickson out as KU women’s basketball coach

Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson is displeased by a call during the annual Jayhawks for a Cure game against Oklahoma, Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson is displeased by a call during the annual Jayhawks for a Cure game against Oklahoma, Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse.


After enduring season after season of mostly sub-par play in the ultra-competitive Big 12 Conference, Kansas University athletic director Sheahon Zenger decided enough was enough and on Monday morning fired women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson.

“At the end of the day, she gave her best effort to KU for 11 seasons and KU was very fair with her,” said Zenger of the coach who was 186-171 overall but just 62-122 in Big 12 play. “What made it difficult was she was a great teammate for all of us and she did everything we asked her to do.”

Except win enough games.

After taking over the program that had struggled to four consecutive losing seasons under former KU coach Marian Washington in 2004-05, Henrickson led the Jayhawks to seven postseason appearances in 11 seasons. However, only two of those were trips to the NCAA Tournament — back-to-back Sweet 16 runs in 2012 and 2013 — and Henrickson's KU teams never finished above .500 in conference play or in the top half of the Big 12 standings.

Given the importance that Zenger and the rest of the athletic department have put on head-to-head match-ups with Kansas State, Henrickson's 0-3 record against the Wildcats this season — which included a home loss and a Big 12 tournament setback in Dallas — as well as an overall mark of 6-19 against K-State may have had as much as anything to do with her firing.

Henrickson, who was extended with a five-year, $505,000-per-year contract following a second straight trip to the Sweet 16 in 2013, will be paid a one-time buyout of $395,000 which was worked into the new contract.

Even KU's best years under Henrickson, which featured all-conference point guard Angel Goodrich leading the charge, included some disappointment along the way. KU's best record under Henrickson in Big 12 play was 8-10 twice (2012 and 2013), and her conference records since taking over the KU program were: 5-11, 5-11, 4-12, 4-12, 6-10, 5-11, 6-10, 8-10, 8-10, 5-13, and 6-12.

That 6-12 mark placed ninth in the 10-team Big 12 this season, and her 15-17 overall record in 2014-15 led to the program missing the postseason for the second year in a row since those Sweet 16 appearances.

Zenger said he appreciated Henrickson's commitment to KU from start to finish but emphasized that, ultimately, the numbers stacked too heavily against her.

As for where he would start the search to replace Henrickson, the fifth-year KU athletic director said things were wide open and added that he was confident that the KU opening would attract several quality coaches.

“They could come in all kinds of different packages,” he said of potential candidates. “But winning games is what they need to do. That's the job. This is Kansas basketball and we expect great things.”

To that end, Zenger, who named Henrickson assistant Katie O'Connor as the program's interim head coach, said he was not worried about the specific timeline for hiring a replacement.

“We've got a lot of time on this,” he said. “We feel comfortable, with Katie in place, that we have plenty of time to survey the landscape and get the right coach.”

Bonnie Henrickson, through the years:

2004-05 — 12-16 overall, 5-11 Big 12 (8th)

2005-06 — 17-13 overall, 5-11 Big 12 (10th)

2006-07 — 11-20 overall, 4-12 Big 12 (T-11th)

2007-08 — 17-16 overall, 4-12 Big 12 (T-10th)

2008-09 — 22-14 overall, 6-10 Big 12 (T-7th)

2009-10 — 17-16 overall, 5-11 Big 12 (T-8th)

2010-11 — 21-13 overall, 6-10 Big 12 (8th)

2011-12 — 21-13 overall, 8-10 Big 12 (T-6th)

2012-13 — 20-14 overall, 8-10 Big 12 (7th)

2013-14 — 13-19 overall, 5-13 Big 12 (8th)

2014-15 — 15-17 overall, 6-12 Big 12 (9th)

Totals: 186-171 overall, 62-122 Big 12


Gavin Fritton 7 years, 3 months ago


I wanted Bonnie to succeed, but it's a results-oriented business and she simply didn't have the results.

Waylon Cook 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow look at her record and figure up the money she stole from KU during her tenure. AMAZING!

Joe Ross 7 years, 3 months ago

With great respect, saying she "stole" the money is unfairly derisive.

Waylon Cook 7 years, 3 months ago

I am sure with the extra cash she has after being fired she can seek professional counseling for me hurting her feelings.

Joe Ross 7 years, 3 months ago

It's not as much about Bonnie's feelings than as whether or not what you describe is fair.

Greg Ledom 7 years, 3 months ago

I must admit that I'm not an avid KU womens basketball fan and thus have no defense of Bonnie and her record, which obviously are not in line with the success our AD requires. That said, Bonnie stole nothing, we simply continued to pay her for sub par services and she banked it. Nothing any of us wouldn't do I suppose.......

Arthur Hess 7 years, 3 months ago

How much did we pay for football wins the past several years? Lets hope Beaty and the new women's head coach give us a better return.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 3 months ago

Is it $100k for Men's BB W's?

That's not meant as criticism of Coach Self (worth every penny invested), or really even to make comparisons. Hopefully, it does show that $/W is really non-sensical without context.

Michael Leiker 7 years, 3 months ago

Wow, guess I had no idea that they had not finished in the top 5 in the Big XII during her tenure. That's amazing, never be in the best half and keep your job for 11 years.

Andy Fischer 7 years, 3 months ago

Jennifer Rizzotti. Her record is outstanding at Hartford. Give her a chance at a power conference school.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 3 months ago

The 2013 contract is one that Dr Z negotiated. That he gave her the opp following the tourney success, but also added the buyout language shows a nice improvement in leadership. Well done.

It will be interesting to see who lands here. The relative success of the non-revenue sports since Dr Z has arrived would indicate that we will see improvements.

Kyle Rohde 7 years, 3 months ago

I have to say the complete lack of fan support is a huge detriment to anybody taking on this job too. Yeah, you can argue that people will show up when they start winning but it's not like this program was dead-last year after year; they were never dead last and had some strong years. And yes, I remember the sold out AFH when they made the NIT Championship too, which was a blast (I was there). But when your typical conference game crowd could fit in most high school gyms, it's hard to get excited about coming to coach or play there.

Hopefully more people show up for the new coach, whomever it is. You can get an entire season of women's basketball tickets for the price of two GA tickets to a men's game.

Matt, isn't calling Goodrich "all-world" a bit excessive? Not like she was 1st team AA, though she was fantastic.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 3 months ago

Don't know how aware of this you are, but women's basketball isn't a big draw. Last year, Tennessee was the only team to average over 10,000 fans per game. The Big 12 as a league had the highest average attendance at 4,049 fans per game last year.

Michael Maris 7 years, 3 months ago

Take a trip down I-35 to Wichita and hire Jody Adams. She's proven in her coaching career that she can get the job done.

She would be my choice for the replacement for Bonnie.


Bob Dietz 7 years, 3 months ago

Hutchinson Junior College coach John Ontjes! 254-25 in 8 seasons and this year's season isn't over yet. 1 national 3rd place finish and two national runner ups in the last 3 years. Consistently recruits players that end up in D1. HE"S A WINNER!!!!!!

John Boyle 7 years, 3 months ago

Not that he would ever listen to me but i emailed Dr Z last week and suggested that he replace Hendrickson with Ontjes.

Bob Dietz 7 years, 3 months ago

Ontjes recruits Kansas and nationally as well as internationally. Has players from Cameroon, France and New Zealand that start on a 33-0 team that is seeded #1 in th upcoming Women's National Junior College Tournament in Salina. He knows D1 talent!

Dyrk Dugan 7 years, 3 months ago

Ontjes looks like a good place to start for sure. A native Kansan too, his recruiting ties to KS kids would be tremendous. He's had outstanding seasons so his standard of excellence would be higher than what we are used to the last 11 years.

Also you have to figure there's an assistant out there from the Baylor, OU, OSU or aTm staffs; or the smaller schools that some of those assistants took the head coach gigs, that should be of interest to us. Plenty of hungry folks out there that should know how to develop programs at the big time level.

Our womens bball has such great tradition from a pioneering, grounds breaking coach and then poof, it was gone; and the last coach did little to bring it back.
Let's get it back with this hire; it's way overdue. Go Jayhawks!

Scott Callahan 7 years, 3 months ago

Let's face it, no one cares about women's basketball. It's a study of incompetence, like watching a bunch of 8 year old boys play. The average attendance at a KU women's game is just over 1000. Yet they play in AFH! I would really like to know much money KU wastes on turning on the lights, staffing, concessions, parking, etc. If they want to play, fine, but put the games in the Horesji Center. Oh, and Jim Boeheim might be available.

Code_2008 7 years, 3 months ago

The average attendance at the Women's games is roughly 3,000 ~ 3,500 people.

Joe Ross 7 years, 3 months ago

Almost right, but not quite. No one cares about non-winning basketball. I guarantee if we had the Coach, players and reputation of Tennesee and/or UConn that we would care about it.

And I have to add that it strikes me as very odd to hear anyone say we dont care about basketball (even womens) at Kansas University.

Bob Dietz 7 years, 3 months ago

WINNING!!!!!!! That's all it will take to draw respectable attendance consistently.WINNING!!!!!!!

Mick Allen 7 years, 3 months ago

Hear what you are saying Scott but don't challenge Title 9.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 3 months ago

Well, Bonnie is gone. Will miss the improved hairdo. One thing that bothered me was the almost regular transfers away. Hurts to recruit some players, then have to watch them leave. I dont know the specifics on Bonnie's defections, and players even transfer out from under Self, but half of his transfers he asked to leave (Tharpe, Frankamp, Giddens, Gile).

So much of coaching is the personality to get people to do what you want. (See Self, Roy, coachK, etc..). Bonnie was a good player herself back in her day, but that doesnt always translate into coaching ability. Or, it partially may, but not to a high enough or elite level.

Jeff Smith 7 years, 3 months ago

John Ontjes all the way!!! He's a winner, hates losing and is ultra-competitive.

Scott Roulier 7 years, 3 months ago

My vote is Jenny Huth from UCLA. Assistant coach with the number 1 recruiting class last year, played at Colorado, family around the Lawrence area.

Carolyn Hunzicker 7 years, 3 months ago

Jodi Adams @ Wichita State COME ON UP TO KANSAS

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